STEAM is an educational approach that incorporates the arts into the more-familiar STEM model, which includes science, technology, engineering and mathematics. STEAM programs can include any of the visual or performing arts, such as dance, design, painting, photography and writing.
The focus has been on STEM fields and education for them since the late 20th century, when the ongoing shortage of technology workers began. Since that time, government agencies in many countries around the world have invested heavily in STEM education and its promotion. The emphasis on fostering STEM skills has inescapably led to decreased emphasis on other subjects in the arts and humanities, with the result that funding for them has dwindled and students have fewer arts-related options.
Reintegrating art and design into education has been demonstrated to increase the happiness and well-being of students. From a business and perspective, the major payoffs include better problem-solving skills and increased creativity and innovation. The integration of arts into STEM education and fields may also help encourage more participation by women in what have been male-dominated areas.
In his TED talk, Sir Ken Robinson makes the case for education that nurtures creativity rather than stifling it: